MARKET SNAPSHOT: Dow Set To Open At Fresh Record As ECB Keeps Rates Unchanged

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

'This is beginning to look a little too frothy for our liking,' says Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategist

U.S. stock futures stepped higher Thursday, putting the Dow Jones Industrial Average on course for another record. Futures for the main equity benchmarks held their gains after the European Central Bank left its monetary policy unchanged, as expected, with Wall Street focusing mostly on a wave of earnings from a number of blue-chip companies.

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What are the main benchmarks doing?

Dow futures rose 83 points, or 0.3% to 26,354, while S&P 500 futures climbed 7.25 points, or 0.3%, to 2,848.25. Nasdaq-100 futures added 39.50, or 0.6%, to 6,970.75.

On Wednesday, the Dow rose 0.2% to a record close (, while the S&P 500 finished 0.1% lower and the Nasdaq Composite lost 0.6%.

The three equity gauges are up between 6.1% and 7.4% so far in 2018, adding to last year's sizable gains as investors cheer the expanding U.S. economy and growth in corporate profits.

What's driving markets?

Improved earnings from corporations so far as been the impetus for rising stock-market values.

The European Central Bank, as expected, left interest rates unchanged ( on Thursday and repeated that it expects to keep interest rates at present levels for an "extended period" and "well past" the end of its asset purchase program, which is due to expire in September. Investors will focus on the ECB's news conference set for 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Follow:ECB live: How will Draghi handle a surging euro? (

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that the U.S. dollar "is not a concern of mine," noting that "in the longer term, we fundamentally in the strength of the dollar." The remarks made during a panel discussion at the forum were an attempt to walk back comments the Treasury secretary made a day ago, which implied that he preferred a weaker dollar.

What are strategists saying?

"While we remain bullish for the year as a whole, this is beginning to look a little too frothy for our liking," said James Barty, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategist, in a note on Thursday.

U.S. stock indexes and global benchmarks have been "fast out of the blocks" in the new year, Barty said.

"Could equity markets melt up? Possibly," he added. "But additional shorter-term hedges make a lot of sense when things are as frothy as this."

Which stocks look like key movers?

3M Co.(MMM) shares were rising after the manufacturer reported fourth-quarter results that were better than expected on an adjusted basis and increased its quarterly dividend by 16% to $1.36 a share. Shares were up 2.4% in premarket trade.

Caterpillar Inc. shares (CAT) rose 3% premarket (, after the company reported better-than-expected earnings for the fourth quarter and offered upbeat guidance for 2018.

Celgene Corp.'s stock(CELG) added 1.5% before the bell after the biopharmaceutical company reported a fourth-quarter profit ( that rose above expectations. The company swung to a net loss of $81 million, or 10 cents a share, in the quarter to Dec. 31, from a profit of $429 million, or 53 cents a share, in the same period a year ago.

Shares of American Airlines Group Inc.(AAL) retreated 0.7% on Thursday after the company reported fourth-quarter earnings ( that were above Wall Street expectations.

Facebook Inc.'s stock (FB)rose 0.5% in premarket action, looking unfazed by reports that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May plans to blast ( social media companies again for providing platforms to terrorists, child abusers and slave traders. May, who is expected to make these remarks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has previously criticized ( such companies along these lines.

Ford Motor Co.'s stock (F)looks set for a down day after the car maker late Wednesday reported disappointing fourth-quarter results and reiterated a bleak outlook (

( Inc. shares (AMZN) are up 0.7% in premarket trading Thursday after an analyst at DA Davidson raised his price target on the stock to $1,800.

Intel Corp. (INTC)and Starbucks Corp.(SBUX)are expected to report results after the close.

Home Depot Inc. (HD) said it would pay one-time $1,000 bonuses for U.S. hourly associates following corporate tax cuts. Shares for the home-improvement retailer were little changed.

Freeport-McMoRan Inc. shares (FCX) jumped 4% premarket Thursday, after the mining and metals company posted better-than-expected ( fourth-quarter earnings

What are other assets doing?

European stocks ( little changed as traders braced for fresh policy signals from the European Central Bank, while most Asian markets closed lower. Gold futures and oil futures were gaining, and the ICE U.S. Dollar Index was extending its recent drop ( that has taken it to three-year lows.

What economic data could help drive markets?

A report on U.S. weekly jobless claims is slated to hit at 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, with economists polled by MarketWatch forecasting 240,000 claims. A December figure for advance trade in goods is due at that time as well, with a deficit of $68.9 billion expected.

Check out:MarketWatch's Economic Calendar (

At 10 a.m. Eastern, investors are due to get December data on new home sales and leading economic indicators. Economists predict 680,000 homes were sold.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 25, 2018 08:25 ET (13:25 GMT)

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